Circuit Court Denies Attempt to End Chicago Teacher Strike

A Cook County Circuit Court judge has prevented an attempt by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools to forcibly end the teachers’ strike by refusing to schedule a hearing for today.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools filed a suit against the Chicago Teacher’s Union for their continued strike after Sunday negotiations did not come to a resolution. Chicago Public Schools claims that the strike is a threat against the “public health and safety” of Chicago students and violates a state law that says strikes can only be for wages and benefits.

Chicago Public Schools were expecting to have to a hearing today awarding a temporary restraining order against the strike, forcing teachers to go back to work. Judge Peter Flynn, who made the decision, said he would consider having a hearing on Wednesday, but wondered if it would still be necessary by then.

Over 25,000 teachers went on strike last Monday after negotiations failed to result in an acceptable compromise. Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, said that negotiations on wages were not the main points of contention, but that health benefits and a new teacher evaluation system caused most of the disagreement. According to Lewis, the new evaluation system, which emphasizes standardized test scores, “could result in almost 6,000 teachers – or nearly 30 percent of our membership – being discharged within one or two years. This is unacceptable and leads to instability for our students.”

Media Resources: Chicago Tribune 9/17/12; Reuters 9/17/12; Feminist Newswire 9/10/12

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